The dancers were leaping like gazelles!

This past Saturday night, Bwogger, Bella Tincher, decided to venture down to Riverside Theater to see the Columbia University Ballet Ensemble’ production of Sleeping Beauty. Filled with strife, drama, and comedy, the show was quite a delight.

As I filled into my seat, third row from the front, I was excited to see what waiting for the audience on the other side of the curtain. The theater had a very basement-of-the-church feel, even equipped with that musky smell that old buildings always seem to have.

The show started with an introduction from the executive director and artistic director, Elizabeth McAneny (BC ’18) and Elizabeth Neureiter (BC ’18), respectively. They spoke passionately about their show, obviously taking great pride in their work, with Neureiter having her hair slicked back in a bun and ready to perform in minutes. With that the show began, a prologue that consisted of the icon scene of whether to give Aurora (played by Clara Monk, CC ’20) a purple or pink dress. The antics of the court was funny, if not a little slapstick-y, full of overdramatized fights and gestures to get their message across to the audience of what was happening if they weren’t already familiar with the storyline.

After the dramatic birth of baby Sleeping Beauty, the fairies all had their turn at a solo to bestow their gifts to the princess. It was clear that each girl was talented, though this Bwogger was particularly enamoured with the styles of Lea Winter, a second year PHD student at SEAS, in her role as the Fairy of Purity. Her ability to make even the hardest steps seem effortless, clean lines, and relaxed facial expressions seemed to capture the essence that ballet tends to want to create, that walking on the tips of your toes is easy as pie. Then the real highlight of the prologue came, with the entrance of Carabosse (aka Maleficent), played by Nadia Khayrallah, who’s over-the-top facial expressions and cluster of minions dressed in black had me smiling to myself.

Act I came with the official introduction of Clara Monk, a first year in the College playing Aurora. When I first heard that a first year had one the lead role of this performance, I was a bit skeptical as to how this had happened, but when she gave her first big solo, it was clear that she was a perfect pick for this role. Her technique was outstanding and it was obvious that she has had years of training prior to this, as she was skilled in everything from facial acting to the pas de deux with the leading man, Kyryk Pavlovsky.

My absolute favorite part however, was the Puss in Boots section in Act III, starring Marika Chrisanthopoulos, Lina Dimitriv, Grace Miner, Caroline Soloway, and Michael Wheatley, as mischiveous cats come to wish Prince Desire and Princess Aurora happy times on their wedding day. Their piece was full of laughs from the audience and over zealous cat claws to make any fan of ballet appreciate the art form.

Overall, a big congratulations to CUBE for being able to put on this wonderful production of Sleeping Beauty and I look forward to seeing many more in the future!